"All Mills & Boon authors, writing for the varied lines - a broad spectrum of contemporary stories as well as the historical novels - aim to meet the fantasies and interests of their readers within parameters they feel comfortable with. My heroes appeal to me - sexy, successful, strong men with a sense of honour and humour. My heroines - independent-minded, resourceful and far from submissive - respond to them in ways a 21st-century reader can identify with. That is not "patriarchal propaganda".
Bindel's words have sparked a fascinating debate all over the (romance) blogging world. In particular, I urge you to read the smart, provocative, thoughtful and challenging comments here, here and here. And here.
Daisy Cummins took the time to respond to my post below, which was very cool of her. Unsurprisingly, many romance writers were upset at Bindel's assertion they were writing misogynistic hate-speech. Go figure. Some readers felt the piece was patronising in its assumption that they were unable tell the difference between reality and fantasy, whilst others were willing to take a more analytical approach to the debate.
I wonder if anyone has approached Bindel with an interview request.
On a related note, on Monday The Guardian printed a letter from one Sam Shuttleworth enquiring:
According to a secondhand bookseller in Oldham, young ladies of Asian heritage can't get enough of Mills and Boon (100 years of heaven or hell?, G2, December 5). Whose opinion of the books, and their readership, does that confirm - Daisy Cummins's or Julie Bindel's?
I don't know what clumsy truths Mr Shuttleworth would like us to draw, but certainly 'young ladies of Asian heritage' form a large part of the M&B readership in the library service I work for. Having said that, as in Oldham, 'young ladies of Asian heritage' are a large customer base full stop.
To conclude, my own foray into the world of Harlequin/ M&B has ground to a halt at page 52 of Lynn Graham's The Petrakos Bride. There's only so much rampant masculinity, scorching black eyes (with the mysterious ability to turn gold at moments of extreme emotional turmoil) and overweening arrogance I can take from my reading material, and I can only assume that the Presents line is not for me.